Disney's Electronic Wristband Illustrates Why Big Companies Push Contactless Wallets
An electronic WristBand will track people around Disney World; contactless wallets like Google’s allow similar data collection in the real world.
Disney just announced an electronic wristband for visitors to its theme parks that neatly illustrates why companies like Google and cellphone networks are pushing the idea of using contactless technology in phones for payments, tickets, boarding passes and more. The short answer? They want data.
Disney’s MagicBand, an ID tag that uses Bluetooth and contactless NFC technology, is being introduced at Walt Disney World in Florida. It replaces a person’s ticket and can be used to tag into rides and other attractions at the park. It can also be used to open a guest’s hotel door, and to pay in stores at the resort. In the future, the Bluetooth link will make it possible for you to wander up to an attraction or Disney character and be greeted using your first name.
To sum up, a person opting to use a MagicBand could find their stay much more convenient, and perhaps even leave their wallet back at their hotel. It’s a very similar pitch to that made by companies including Google, and the consortium of major cellphone networks, Isis, for contactless “wallets” based on near field communication chips (NFC) built into phones.
However, Disney’s MagicBand program has significant benefits to the company, too. The MagicBand collects valuable data each time it is tagged or used to buy something, providing a new perspective on what Disney’s customers are doing at the resort. It becomes possible to do things like look for relationships between the attractions and rides a person visits, or the characters they meet, and what they spend money on in the gift shop. Disney could look for signs of the social dynamics of groups of people that arrive at the park together.